OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – OG&E launched its “SmartHours” program 10 years ago that offers a cheaper rate during off-peak hours and a variable rate during the on-peak hours of 2 to 7 p.m.
Since its inception, more than 211,000 Oklahomans have signed up. Now, some customers have concerns that new rates spell disaster for SmartHours customers.
Many families adjust their lifestyle to consume less energy from 2 to 7 p.m. when the rate is variable and can be high during the hottest months of the year… June to September.
“It’s a demand shifting program that allows customers to save if they’re able to shift to off-peak hours,” said Jessica King with the Energy Efficiency and Customer Programs.
As of June 1, 2022, OG&E has changed the SmartHours rate from 5 cents to 7 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Some customers say they had no idea until they called the utility provider.
“There has been an update, and it’s now going to be seven cents off-peak hours,” said an OG&E representative during a recorded conversation.
“You’ll be charged six cents. Anything over 1400 kilowatts gets charged at seven cents,” said a different OG&E representative during a separate recorded call.
“I do regret the confusion caused by the recorded comments on the phone call with the customer service rep,” said King. “We will continue to provide additional training to our customer service team.”
SmartHours may have been an easy choice for Oklahomans who loved paying half during non-peak hours for years.
Today, there’s only a 30% difference in the rate, and with a hot summer ahead, there is a high risk of a hefty bill if you run the AC in the afternoons.
Remember that SmartHours on-peak rate can rise as high as 43 cents per kilowatt-hour.
“We don’t expect our customers to shift, but the goal is for us to reduce those summer peaks because when we have to go out and produce and buy more energy, it’s very expensive,” said King.
One OG&E customer asked a representative if he was saving money with SmartHours; she responded, “yes, you are not saving anything,” during a recorded phone call.
There is a third lesser-known option. It’s called “time of use” or “residential TOU”; customers get the low 7 cents rate during off-peak hours. They are locked into 24 cents during peak hours.
If customers want to cancel SmartHours, there’s widespread confusion about when they will revert to the standard rate. OG&E confirms all customers who cancel SmartHours return to the regular rate as of the first day of the current bill cycle.